Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Richard Gallagher has warned that the British people’s vote for Brexit “must be respected”.

But the Church diplomat added that “it should also be remembered that a united Europe represents a value in itself”.

“After two world wars, with the economy destroyed, the construction of the European project brought us 70 years of peace and prosperity. And prosperity doesn’t come by itself”, Gallagher recalled.


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Driving the news

Gallagher, a native of Liverpool, was speaking to the Italian news agency SIR on the margins of an event on “Rights, duties. Europe: 1979-2019” at the Meeting for friendship among peoples in Rimini.

The Secretary for Relations with States in the Holy See’s Secretariat of State focused in his talk on the topic of sovereignisms or extremist nationalisms, which he said “have a tendency to close and exclude”.

“If we want to build a strong and united Europe we need opening up, dialogue and collaboration”, Gallagher insisted.

“Pope Francis invites us to pay attention to the dangers inherent in sovereignisms”, the diplomat added.

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Go deeper

On the subject of many Europeans’ dissatisfaction with the current direction in which the European project is going, Gallagher admitted that “we can understand the difficulties and frustrations of many Europeans, but I believe it is important to go back and work on this project to strengthen it, purify it from what is not working, to build it”. 

“Dialogue is the best way to avoid fueling nationalist and Europeanist extremism”, added the Vatican diplomat.

Why it matters

“In the future the European institutions will have to get closer to the people”, Gallagher warned.

He said these institutions “will have to reform themselves” to avoid feeding the “disaffection and negative reactions” to the European project currently being felt in the internal politics of sevral member states.

“The Church has no nationalistic visions”, the diplomat concluded.

He added that while the Church “greatly appreciates the love of country… this must be seasoned with a sense of openness to others”.

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.